Saturday, June 04, 2005

Profiles in Bias

The BBC often publishes "Profiles" of people who happen to be topical in the news and with whom, presumably, the BBC feels their audience might not be familiar. Compare and contrast the style and approach in two relatively recent profiles, one for Dominique De Villepin who has just been appointed Prime Minister in France, and the other for John Bolton, President Bush's nominee for US representative to the UN.

The first two lines on De Villepin:

France's new Prime Minister, Dominique de Villepin, is best known for leading the charge against US policy in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq. The silver-haired politician, once referred to as a "diplomatic pin-up" by a newspaper, cuts a dashing figure in the often grey world of French politics.
A newspaper? Who cares what "a newspaper" said about him. "A newspaper" also once referred to, and even pictured De Villepin as, a "weasel". Why wasn't that mentioned as part of his profile?

On the other hand, this is a Brit's first glimpse of Bolton, as seen through the filter of the BBC:
Employees at the UN in New York have described reactions ranging from
disbelief to horror when John Bolton was nominated as US ambassador to the

So, one "cuts a dashing figure" and the other inspires "disbelief" and "horror". Just the facts on old Auntie BBC.


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